Scotland Yard

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The famous revolving sign outside the current New Scotland Yard building, located in Victoria, London.

Scotland Yard (officially New Scotland Yard) is a metonym for the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police Service, the territorial police force responsible for policing most of London.

The name derives from the location of the original Metropolitan Police headquarters at 4 Whitehall Place, which had a rear entrance on a street called Great Scotland Yard.[1] The Scotland Yard entrance became the public entrance to the police station, and over time the street and the Metropolitan Police became synonymous. The New York Times wrote in 1964 that just as Wall Street gave its name to New York's financial district, Scotland Yard became the name for police activity in London.[2]

The force moved away from Great Scotland Yard in 1890, and the name New Scotland Yard was adopted for subsequent headquarters. The current New Scotland Yard is located on Broadway (Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.) in Victoria and has been the Metropolitan Police's headquarters since 1967. In 2013, it was announced that the force will move back to the Curtis Green Building, the former site of Scotland Yard, which is located on the Victoria Embankment in 2015, and will be renamed Scotland Yard.[3]


Commonly known as the Met, the Metropolitan Police Service is responsible for law enforcement within Greater London, excluding the square mile of the City of London, which is covered by the City of London Police. Additionally, the London Underground and National Rail networks are the responsibility of the British Transport Police. The Metropolitan Police was formed by Robert Peel with the implementation of the Metropolitan Police Act, passed by Parliament in 1829.[1] Peel, with the help of Eugène-François Vidocq, selected the original site on Whitehall Place for the new police headquarters. The first two commissioners, Charles Rowan and Richard Mayne, along with various police officers and staff, occupied the building. Previously a private house, 4 Whitehall Place (Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.) backed onto a street called Great Scotland Yard.

The original New Scotland Yard, now called the Norman Shaw Buildings

By 1887, the Met headquarters had expanded from 4 Whitehall Place into several neighbouring addresses, including 3, 5, 21 and 22 Whitehall Place; 8 and 9 Great Scotland Yard, and several stables.[1] Eventually, the service outgrew its original site, and new headquarters were built (Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.) on the Victoria Embankment, overlooking the River Thames, south of what is now the Ministry of Defence's headquarters. In 1888, during the construction of the new building, workers discovered the dismembered torso of a female; the case, known as the 'Whitehall Mystery', was never solved. In 1890, police headquarters moved to the new location, which was named New Scotland Yard. By this time, the Met had grown from its initial 1,000 officers to about 13,000 and needed more administrative staff and a bigger headquarters. Further increases in the size and responsibilities of the force required even more administrators, and in 1907 and 1940, New Scotland Yard was extended further (Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.). This complex is now a Grade I listed structure known as the Norman Shaw Buildings.

The original building at 4 Whitehall Place still has a rear entrance on Great Scotland Yard. Stables for some of the mounted branch are still located at 7 Great Scotland Yard, across the street from the first headquarters.

New Scotland Yard

By the 1960s the requirements of modern technology and further increases in the size of the force meant that it had outgrown its Victoria Embankment site. In 1967 New Scotland Yard moved to the present building on Broadway, which was an existing office block acquired under a long-term lease; the first New Scotland Yard is now partly used as the base for the Met's Territorial Support Group.

The current New Scotland Yard building in Victoria Street

The Met's senior management team, who oversee the service, is based at New Scotland Yard at 10 Broadway, close to St. James's Park station, along with the Met's crime database. This uses a national computer system developed for major crime enquiries by all British forces, called Home Office Large Major Enquiry System, more commonly referred to by the acronym HOLMES, which recognises the great fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. The training programme is called 'Elementary', after Holmes's well-known, yet apocryphal, phrase "elementary, my dear Watson". Administrative functions are based at the Empress State Building, and communication handling at the three Metcall complexes, rather than at Scotland Yard.

A number of security measures were added to the exterior of New Scotland Yard during the 2000s, including concrete barriers in front of ground-level windows as a countermeasure against car bombing, a concrete wall around the entrance to the building, and a covered walkway from the street to the entrance into the building. Armed officers from the Diplomatic Protection Group patrol the exterior of the building along with security staff.

The Metropolitan Police Authority bought the freehold of the building for around £120 million in 2008.[4]

Move-back to the Embankment

In May 2013 the Met confirmed that the New Scotland Yard building on Broadway will be sold and the force's headquarters will be moved to the Curtis Green Building (Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.) on the Victoria Embankment, which will be renamed Scotland Yard. A competition was announced for architects to redesign the building prior to the Met moving to it in 2015.[5] This building currently houses the Territorial Policing headquarters and is adjacent to the original "Scotland Yard" (Norman Shaw North Building).

Ahead of the move to the Embankment, the Met sold New Scotland Yard to Abu Dhabi Financial Group in December 2014 for £370 million.[6]

In popular culture

Scotland Yard has become internationally famous as a symbol of policing, and fictional detectives from Scotland Yard feature in many works of crime fiction.

Fictional entities



  • Agatha Christie's numerous mystery novels often referenced Scotland Yard, most notably in her Hercule Poirot series (for instance, Inspector Japp).
  • It is referred to Jules Verne's novel Around the World in Eighty Days (1873).
  • During the 1930s, there was a short-lived pulp magazine called variously Scotland Yard, Scotland Yard Detective Stories or Scotland Yard International Detective, which, despite the name, concentrated more on lurid crime stories set in the United States than anything to do with the Metropolitan Police.
  • Inspector Lestrade of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes series works at Scotland Yard.


  • The Black Museum (also known as The Crime Museum of Scotland Yard), founded in 1874, is a collection of criminal memorabilia kept at New Scotland Yard


  • Whitehall 1212 (18 November 1951 until 28 September 1952), was a weekly crime drama radio show in the United States; its cases were taken from the files of Scotland Yard's Black Museum


  • Fabian of the Yard was a television series filmed and transmitted by the BBC between 1954 and 1956, based upon the career of the by then retired Detective Inspector Robert Fabian.
  • A long-running gag to end skits in Monty Python's Flying Circus is a policeman in a tan raincoat and a fedora bursting in, and announcing himself as so-and-so "of the Yard".[7][8][9][10]
  • Last of the Summer Wine, the long running British Situation Comedy, featured Frank Thornton as retired Police Officer Herbert "Truly" Truelove. Because of his previous involvement with the police, Truly refers to himself as "Truly of the Yard".

Elementry a US television series based on Sherlock Holmes was also referenced

See also

  • Whitehall 1212 for many years, famously the main public telephone number of Scotland Yard


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Metropolitan Police Service – History of the Metropolitan Police Service". Retrieved 29 May 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Farnsworth, Clyde H. (15 May 1964). "Move is planned by Scotland Yard". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 December 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "New Metropolitan Police HQ announced as Curtis Green Building". BBC News. 20 May 2013. Retrieved 22 May 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Justin Davenport (30 October 2012). "Metropolitan Police to sell New Scotland Yard". Evening Standard. Retrieved 26 May 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Met confirms Scotland Yard to be sold". The Australian. 20 May 2013. Retrieved 26 May 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "New Scotland Yard sold to Abu Dhabi investors for £370m". BBC News. 9 December 2014. Retrieved 28 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Inspector Flying Fox of the Yard". Monty Python. Retrieved 11 December 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "The Agatha Christie Sketch". Monty Python. Retrieved 11 December 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Court Scene – Witness in Coffin / Cardinal Richelieu;". Monty Python. Retrieved 11 December 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Erizabeth L. / Fraud Film Squad". Monty Python. Retrieved 11 December 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links